Riders 30 - Argos 29
Call them ugly wins, call them improbable, call them lucky... whatever you call them the Riders have had quite the knack for them this year. There was the 3rd and 1 stand in BC, the "rely on Matt Nichols to embarrass himself" in Winnipeg, not to mention all those times we just assumed our D would score enough to win us the game. I thought we hard flirted as close to the edge of narrow wins as was possible... I should have known better. Saturday's "rely on the opposing team missing 2 key FGs while your kicker makes a 56 yarder to escape with a 1 point victory" definitely brought new meaning to "narrow victory".
Offensively we came out firing, scoring on the first possession and notching not 1, not 2 but 3 offensive TDs. The first time we've legitimately done that all season. I mean it was against the worst defense in the CFL but looking good against a bad defense is better than looking bad against a bad defense right? Unfortunately after that 3rd TD our rejuvenated offense decided to pull a Vontae Davis and call it quits and treated us the offense we were used to for the remainder of the game. There were some positives about our O. We remembered who Williams-Lambert was. We fed Roosevelt the ball. We gave Thigpen the ball more than twice (and low and behold he does awesome things). But there was also a lot of hot garbage with our O. As much as we did better at involving Thigpen in the O, guess how many touches he had in the 4th quarter with us needing a score? 1. I don't know what about the previous 12 games leads us to think that Tre Mason and Shaq Evans will find he endzone but when it mattered most that's where we were looking and not to a guy who has found the endzone 6 time. Collaros is about 40% good QB and 60% oh my god what were you thinking?!. That first INT I'm not sure what about that look made him think he should throw there, receiving was not open at all. The second one was the right read but he through behind him on an out to the sideline (can't do that). At times it seemed his go to play was panicked dump off to Spencer Moore. Collaros leads an offense with the lowest expectations in the CFL. Just don't turn the ball over and everyone will probably be ok with you but he's failing miserably at that. Some signs of life from the offense (again, against the worst D in the League) but more is needed out of them when we start playing teams that will actually make the playoffs.
Defense was not dominant for the second week in a row. They got a pick and a couple sacks and really locked things down in the 4th quarter but they gave up way too many yards, missed a lot of tackles, missed a lot of coverage assignments and allowed a lot of points. D was actually a beneficiary of Marc Trestman releasing his inner McAdoo and doing some questionable things. If you aren't going to attempt at least one bomb to Duron I'm not sure why you roster him. More concerning was him keeping WiIder on the sidelines. Wilder got just a handful of touches in the first half in favour of Burks (who wasn't that great). Finally in the 3rd quarter they leaned heavy on Wilder and he produced a ton of yards and the O put up points. The in the 4th quarter they didn't give him a touch on 2 of the final 3 series. I don't get it but it worked in our favour. It's not like the D played like crap but they turned in a very average performance and we are not a team that is built to win when the D is not dominating.
I said in the pre-game that special teams would play a factor and boy did they ever. Brett Lauther is almost inhuman. The Leader Posts ROb Vanstone pointed out that Lauther has not missed in 14 attempts from 41 or longer. HAS NOT MISSED. He now has 2 56 yarders.... TWO! If he was kicking even just above average instead of lights out, we would be in trouble. Nine months from now there will be a large amount of babies named Brett being born. As for Toronto's kicker.... well maybe you can join a support group with Daniel Carlson and Zane Gonzalez. The good news is that by virtue of playing in Toronto you won't have to hide your face in public.
I haven't decided if we are a good team that just keeps playing bad or if we are a not good team that just keeps getting improbable wins. I'd like to thinks its the former but with each passing week, I wonder more and more. I like Chris Jones' post game quote "We never going to apologize for a win". Getting the 2 points and staying in second in the West is the most important thing. I'd be lying if I said I don't have concerns on both sides of the ball looking at what's coming up in our schedule down the stretch but as long as the wins keep coming I don't care so much about how close or ugly or by the skin of our necks they are. My heart may not like it but I'm pretty sure I can't quiet it down with some whiskey.
Other random thoughts:
- Thank god Collaros eventually made that first TD to Lambert. He was open right from the snap and Collaros waited way longer than he should have to pull the trigger.
- I don't think enough is being made of Jones still wearing that green shirt. The man hasn't worn colours in years and now suddenly won't take off the green shirt even after the win streak ended. Will he now wear that shirt forever?
- Kyran Moore is one hell of a player. Glad we found him.
- Really noticed Jordan Reaves on kick coverages.
- Its amazing how Mic'Hael Brooks can just stuff a play when he wants to.
- Chad Geter is quietly turning in a great season as a rotational defensive player. Athleticism must run in the family what with his brother Derek being so good at baseball.
It's been a weird season. Riders probably should be 0-3 the last 3 games. 2 missed FG's by Argos & McLeod misses a wide open Green for a sure TD. Teams keep taking turns going on losing/winning streaks. Even Calgary is 3-2 after going 7-0. Everyone in the West has gone on a 3-0, 3-1 streak & then the other way. Riders at 8-5 is probably the best result they could have hoped for, & 9-5 (very likely) gives them some breathing room. My concern. They are on the other side of that 11 game run with out a bye. Should beat Als but I expect everyone to toughen up in the final 4 games & the other teams are well rested. For the most part, Riders have stole some games. You can point to the Bombers, Lions & Eskimos as more giving them away. That counts for something but you would think the home stretch this would change. Crazy season so far. Somebody is going to string some wins together down the stretch in the West with a heavy dose of West vs West coming up. It's far from over except for probably first place. Loved the Lions/TiCats game. Best game this year for the entertainment value.
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